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Staff

LIZ MATTHEWS - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

BLAKE SHNIRRING  - TREASURER

Liz Matthews received her M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (2008) and M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Liz began her professional career in publishing, both at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Brain Child, The Rumpus, Brevity, Spelk, Storgy, Milk Candy Review, and The Tishman Review, among other places. Liz teaches Introductory/Intermediate fiction workshops.

BETH SAUNDERS - OFFICE MANAGER

BLAKE SHNIRRING  - TREASURER

Beth joined Westport Writers a year ago as our office manager. Her background is mostly in advertising and production, but for nine years she also ran a successful typesetting & graphics company while living in Washington DC. She's originally a New Yorker who had moved up & down the east coast before finally settling down in Westport, CT with her husband and twin boys, who are now 17 years old.

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors works hard to ensure that our programs and workshops meet the needs and criteria of our students. They each come from a background that showcases their love and passion for reading, writing, and volunteering.

ANNE LONERGAN - BOARD CHAIRMAN

Anne is a graduate of St. Lawrence University, with a B.A. in Literature. Her sales and marketing career took her from New Jersey to Connecticut, where she eventually settled back into her home town of Westport, with her husband, Lance, and their four children. Anne volunteered extensively in the Westport school system, focusing on literacy support and art education. Five years ago, she discovered the Westport gem that is the Westport Writers’ Workshop, and she began her fiction-writing career. She writes short stories, flash fiction, and essays and has been published in Brain, Child Magazine and Flash Fiction magazine.

BLAKE SCHNIRRING - TREASURER

Blake grew up in the Inland Northwest in Idaho and went to college at the University of Idaho. She moved to Los Angeles, where she sold advertising space in design engineering magazines and took Improv classes with The Groundlings. After jumping into technology sales, she moved east to NYC. She lives in Westport, CT, and has been involved with the Kings Highway Elementary school, coordinating the Author Study program. Four years ago, she began performing with MouseMuse, the storytelling group operating out of Westport. She started taking classes at Westport Writers’ Workshop two years ago with a creative writing class taught by the talented Christine Kalafus and eventually moved into a memoir. Immediately, Blake became an evangelist for Westport Writer’s Workshop and their first-rate writing coaches. Blake has always had her head in a book, and reading is her number one hobby.

LINDA WATERBURY - DEVELOPMENT & FUNDRAISING

Linda Perani Waterbury encourages everyone around her to write! Her belief that each person has a voice has translated into creating a new writing program for middle school girls at the Boys and Girls Club in Stamford. Educated at Skidmore College, Class of ‘80, Linda raised two daughters with her husband, Jim, while living in three foreign countries and various cities across the USA. Her sales and marketing career began in NYC with Saratoga Mineral Water. She’s worked at Lehman Brothers, Compton Advertising and The Legal Times division of Harcourt Brace. Throughout both the college years and the child-rearing years, Linda has taken on leadership roles in her local community, serving as an enthusiastic fundraiser for many organizations, including WWW, SAVE the Children, Skidmore College and Hamilton College. For many years, she has also taught Sunday school at St. Michael’s in Greenwich, CT.

BETH CRISWELL - SECRETARY & CHAIR OF GOVERNANCE

Beth Criswell has been writing with Westport Writers’ Workshop for over five years where she has developed her craft and enjoys diving into her YA high fantasy world series.  She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and brings prior experience as a member of other local nonprofit boards and organizations, and as an attorney.  

KATHLEEN SULLIVAN

Kathleen Sullivan began writing at Westport Writers Workshop five years ago. With a background in freelance journalism, she began writing creative non-fiction in a variety of classes and workshops. Most recently, Kathleen has ventured into fiction writing and the challenge of developing a more disciplined practice. She joined the board two years ago and is delighted to currently co-chair the service committee with Anne Lonergan. Kathleen has volunteered for the Wilton Library and the Wilton Public Schools. She has also contributed to Good Morning Wilton. She lives in Wilton with her husband, their three sons, and a yellow Labrador with nine lives and a death wish.

CHRIS FRIDEN

Chris Friden is a storyteller who has directed for television; produced and hosted a national sports-comedy program; written and staged plays & musicals; and published board games. He works as a Creative Director and teaches workshops while completing his first YA manuscript.

LEILA SHIELDS

Leila has enjoyed the inspiration and instruction offered by the Westport Writers Workshop for many years, experiencing classes with various instructors and students in both memoir and fiction; she’s currently at work finishing her first manuscript. Dedicated to the arts, she serves on the board of Norwalk’s Shakespeare on the Sound. Currently a middle school Language Arts teacher at Wilton’s Montessori School, Leila was previously a writer and editor with Condé Nast Publications, specifically for Allure, Self, and Women’s Sports & Fitness Magazines. She’s a graduate of Yale University and Phillips Academy Andover, where she currently contributes as a Head Agent and member of Andover’s Alumni Council and Development Board. She lives in Westport with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

DEVON PIKE

Devon has a deep love for storytelling, and its power to transport, inspire and create shared experiences. She has been writing with the Westport Writers Workshop since 2016. Her first published work, The Girl in the Tree, was released in Unlimited Literature magazine, Summer 2020. In addition to her writing life, Devon is a leader in the fashion and retail industry, known for transformational roles at Ralph Lauren, Juicy Couture, DeBeers Diamond Jewellers, Givenchy, Gap, and Baggallini.  Devon holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University and MBA from the Harvard Business School. Tennessee born and Ohio raised, Devon Pike lives in Rowayton, Connecticut with her 9-year-old daughter Grayson and their black lab Stormy.